Farro is one of my favourite grain: from a health point of view it contains less gluten than wheat and carries a low glycemic response (which is the effect a food has to blood sugar levels). It is popularly eaten throughout central Italy, in particular Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio, where it's been growing since Ancient Rome. In winter farro is typically used in earthy soups but in the summer it makes a great base for grain salads: I prefer it to couscous because of its crunchiness unlikeliness to get soggy.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish, 3-4 for a more generous salad
By all means, use your favourite, local, seasonal vegetables for this, cooked or raw. Some other ideas include finely chopped raw celery, carrot or fennel for crunch, shelled and blanched peas, zucchini,green beans and ripe cherry tomatoes. Mozzarella,scamorza or parmigiano make nice substitutes for the goat cheese too.
250 gr whole farro
1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of cooked borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of cooked peas
A bunch of asparagus
A handful of fresh herbs as thyme, rosemary and sage
A handful of black kale and/or baby “Ruby Red” silverbeet
A handful of goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Whole farro (as opposed to cracked) can take between 20 and 40 minutes to cook. Cook it just as you would for pasta – in plenty of salted boiling water. Taste and when slightly soft but ‘al dente’, drain thoroughly and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables for the salad. Grill the asparagus (or steam it if you prefer), rinse and if needed, roughly chop the silverbeet and rocket.
When the farro and asparagus have cooled completely, combine them with the herbs, beans, peas and leafy greens. Dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the herbs and goat cheese on top and serve.